The Brights' Bulletin
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BRIGHTS' BULLETIN -- MARCH 2009
Darwin's 200th birthday - Party on!
Invitation from Mynga:
If you were not able to mark the special occasion along with others anytime this month, it is not too late to drop in on and at least observe a celebration. The birthday bash I helped organize here in Sacramento, California, ended up on YouTube (posted by J R Chadwick, in several parts).
Sacramento's February 8 event was an educational gala. The featured speaker was science historian and author (and Enthusiastic Bright) Michael Shermer, who addressed 400 attendees on "Why Darwin Matters" and signed his books. The band was "Theory of Evolution" (in Facebook), and the "science comedian" (yes, there really is such a creature, Brian Malow) was a definite hit with the audience.
OOPS - A Mixup (Germany)
Last month BC sent an announcement to German Brights about the formation of a new group. Alas, the group was to be a "local" BCC, not a "national" BCC. We apologize for bothering the whole German nation of Brights with the message. The fact is that Dieter, the leader had stated: "I have started to form a brights "Stammtisch", regular meeting, in the greater Stuttgart area. We are 8 now."
There is a more extensive Brights group for German speakers -- "die Brights-FG e.V." It has been officially registered by court in Wьrzburg, Germany.
Germany has more Brights now than does any other non-English speaking nation. (The count of its Brights puts Germany as essentially tied with Australia at fourth ranking, after the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.)
A Different Sort of Community
From Melody (Gloucestershire, UK): "There are many more of us out here, you know - and most of us are quite isolated in our beliefs simply because we are not natural 'joiners' of organisations - but this is different - thank you!"
Russel (UK): "I am famously not a joiner but was so cheered to find this collection of apparently like-minded, healthily sceptical and 'free-thinking' beings that I almost felt obliged to put my hand up and & say 'count me in'!
From David (Idaho, USA): "I am very gratified to see an organization working towards the demarginalization of naturalistic worldviews... Thanks for promoting the integration of naturalist argument into the public discourse. BTW, the website is fantastic."
From Joshua (California, USA): "Thanks for the opportunity to join the community of naturalistic freethinkers. I normally label/identify myself a 'devout atheist,' but find the 'constituency of Brights' a refreshing redirection and especially appreciate your avoidance of strict definitions. **sigh of relief**"
"Getting Along" - A Discussion on the Web
"Can believers and non-believers co-exist respectfully?"
That question was addressed by discussants in the United Church of Canada's "WonderCafe.ca":
One statement had drawn interest in the UCC's forum:
"Don't waste time trying to convince other people of the error of their world view, as though rational reasons were all it takes. How many times have I heard that religious people are stupid, insulting the very people we need? We have to be part of the body politic. We have to be pragmatic to be effective. It's religion's intrusion into our civic institutions - that's what really counts. We can't have influence if we don't change."
The above statement had been quoted in an article, "True Unbelievers," authored by a United Church reporter after a visit to an atheist conference in September.
Reporting on her observations of a diverse array of persons attending the conference, the religious reporter, Jocelyn Bell, had commented:
"Maybe the hope that believers and non-believers can co-exist respectfully lies in people like Dr. Mynga Futrell. She is a science educator and co-founder of The Brights' Network, an international organization of ethically focused secularists. In accepting the convention's "World of Thanks" award, she admonished atheists generally for their self-defeating habit of condescending to religious people."
Note: Mynga's ten minute convention speech will be published in full by Atheist Alliance International in an upcoming issue of its "Secular Nation" quarterly.
Brights Hosted by Christians
Excerpted from a blog report by Ryan, a Christian who attends college at California Poly State University:
"A large group of Christian engineering students invited the Brights and the Secular Society to a potluck dinner. There were probably about 50 Christians and 15 Brights. We got to eat with each other and ask each other questions...[a lengthy and descriptive post continues]
"All in all, it was a very good and cool experience. It was a lot of fun. Talking to the Brights really allowed me to see some things from non-Christian viewpoints and I truly respect the students that were at the dinner who were eager to ask questions, answer questions, and share."
A smattering of Brights reported being unable to play Brights videos on their systems. Mike, the webmaster, has done some tweaking. As a bonus, the current setup should also enable a full screen display.
Please report any remaining problems to Mike via email@example.com (DISPLAY VIDEO).
Slow Site Response?
Some Brights have reported encountering a lag time on the Brights' website. This comment came from our web hosting provider: "It is possible that the internet is routing European Brights through some bottlenecks."
If you have a problem with slowness at some point and it is convenient for you, please check the speed while it's still slow, using the information on this site, and then send the info to firstname.lastname@example.org (SLOW RESPONSE)
Playing Outside the Beliefs/Religion Ballgame
The Brights movement, as an education and social action endeavor, exists to work toward the three aims listed on the Brights' home page. The action priority is civic parity for people who have a naturalistic outlook.
Well-focused Brights groups engage in activities working toward that end, and there are many websites where such "Brights groups" or "the Brights" might appropriately be listed so others can locate them. Categorizing alongside "religions" or "belief systems," though, simply misses the point of the Brights endeavor (and dilutes understanding and effectiveness). Such categories as "civic action" or "social change" (if available) are more suitable for Brights groups that have the intended civic focus.
News From SIG2: Categorically Sound Science
2009 is the International Year of Astronomy. This is a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. Everyone should realise the impact of astronomy and other fundamental sciences on our daily lives, and understand how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society.
IYA2009 activities are taking place locally, nationally, regionally and internationally. National Nodes in each country are running activities throughout the year.
Enrollments of Note
By the addition of a registrant from Saudi Arabia and another from Samoa, The Brights' Net count of nations having at least one registered Bright has risen to 183.
FROM THE NEW BRIGHT IN SAUDI ARABIA: "I am an atheist in land where this is a punishable by death. I am glad the internet allows me to join my fellow naturalists." [We welcome this brave but anonymous Bright.]
A "Brights" Dictionary Project
Nicholas (Kansas, USA) asks: "Tell me when 'bright-noun' is in the dictionary so I can say, "Go look it up"."
Nicholas, dictionaries are based on usage. So, be sure to use the noun! It will take time, but the more who use the term, the farther down the pathway. In the meantime, here are four references that put us on the way.
Wikipedia article - Brights Movement
Urban Dictionary - "Bright"
NationMaster.com - Brights movement
Allwords.com - "Bright"
If you know of (or run across) others, please send notice (with the URL) to email@example.com
To Be Who You Are!
Allan (South Carolina, USA): "I have long disliked the negative connotation of "atheist"--not wanting to be defined for what I am not."
Neil (UK): I always think it's strange to be given a title such as 'Atheist'. Why give a name to someone who doesn't believe in something that doesn't exist?"
Tony (UK): "I've felt like this for many years, but now I have a name which doesn't make me sound like a spoilsport."
Matthew (California, USA): "Thank you for creating a website/community/movement like this. Sometimes I feel like an island of reason in a sea of believers."
Predicting Good Fortune, Naturally
FROM PAUL: Having worked all morning at Brights Central, we walked to a nearby lunch spot (Chinese cafй) for some wonton soup. When finished, we opened our fortune cookies.
Paul's: "Within the week you will receive an unexpected gift!"
Mynga's: "You will receive unexpected support over the next week. Accept it graciously."
Can these two Chinese fortune cookies be wrong? Hmmm??
Brights and Music - Overwhelmed by Responses
In last month's Bulletin, Paul remarked: "One of the things I most miss in the freethought community is such inspirational music. Any comments on "the music of those who have a naturalistic worldview"?
What a response! We are still sorting and will post example items on the website soon.
Recent Creative Expressions
Brights' Expressions and Illuminations
Clinton Turner's pi cinquain about being a Bright
Chris Highland: "Here's to a Brighter Day!" (photo)
"Think Green" by Michel Kreuger
Help to Grow the Movement
Ryan (Utah, USA) wrote: "Please let me know if I can help in any way."
BC's response was: "What we need most from all Brights is to 'spread the word' that The Brights' Net is out there and active."
Do YOU have ideas for how Brights can best get the word around? Please send practical and cost-free ways to inform others about The Brights' Net. Some strategies might be "anonymous" while others might be "Here I am, how about joining me". Email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and put in the subject line "(IDEAS TO SPREAD)." We can post creative ideas on the website.
Any Brights in Your Neighborhood? (USA)
Ethan (Ohio, USA) said in his registration: "Please keep me connected to people that share a similar understanding of the world around us."
A quick check of The Brights' database found within his postal code 133 Brights lived within 25 miles of him, and over 300 within 50 miles.
The same may be true if you live in any larger city in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, or Germany.
Are You Looking for a Brights Group?
A Brights Community Cluster (BCC) is a local, regional, national, or international group of Brights dedicated to the aims and principles of the Brights movement. Members stay in communication with one another via e-mail, listserv, forum, web group, and/or in person. There are currently approximately 18,200 Brights in hundreds of clusters.
Twelve countries have a national BCC in operation (on line, meeting in pubs and homes, or on the web).
Interested in starting a group? Start by going here!
Brights Incarcerated Program
Joel, program leader, entered the names of two new incarcerated Brights this month. Prisoners cannot have access to computers, and Joel summarizes Bulletins and sends by postal mail.
Amazon Purchases Helpful to the Movement
Many thanks to those constituents who are remembering to order Amazon products via The Brights' Net link. January's $280 commission from Amazon.com went a long way toward paying for this month's webmaster activities at Brights Central, and GBP 60.3 went into the coffers for UK Brights.
Whenever considering shopping at Amazon, you can route yourself there via an appropriate search box on the Brights website. Scroll down to find one on the support page.
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Bright Regards from Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert at Brights Central.